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Computer is ~3 years old. For the last 2 years, on hot days only (28C (82F) or more) it makes a high-pitched, quite loud, and very annoying noise. This noise comes in short bursts (up to 3 seconds long) and the occurrence frequency is unpredictable.

I've recorded a sample:

The noise doesn't seem to be related to any particular activity, i.e. it occurs when the computer is idle, with and without high I/O activity, with and without high CPU usage.

I'm also sure it's not the PSU, as I've changed it and it's still screeching.

EDIT: it's definitely not a digital beep, it's an analog whine.

There is no crashing or freezing or anything abnormal when it screeches like this but it's quite annoying during summer. I've read (here, here) that it can be some electronic component in the motherboard gone bad. Is there any way to find which one is it? (carefully listening doesn't work, I've tried!) Is it even worth it? Is there any way to be relatively sure it's the motherboard and not the CPU or RAM or something else?

EDIT: I've now installed SpeedFan to see what's the temperature threshold where it starts making noise. Will update on the next hot day :)

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Something is wrong with the sound file its only 15kb. – Moab Dec 7 '10 at 21:49
@Moab: it's ok, it's a short MP3. You can play it directly on – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 7 '10 at 22:02
Any luck? – Iszi Dec 17 '10 at 20:20
@Iszi: it hasn't whined again so far, and it's 34C today... thanks for following up! :) – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 17 '10 at 20:57

If it's not something emitting from an actual built-in speaker on the motherboard or another part, I'd look next to moving parts. The only part that moves fast enough to sustain a noise of that high frequency would be your hard drive. Try running the following (Windows) command:


This should scan for bad sectors on the hard drive, and attempt to recover information if any are found. If the scan does find bad sectors (a report is generated when the scan is completed) then this is probably your problem. Shut down the system until you've found a replacement drive.

Other than the hard drive, I don't know what might specifically cause that sort of noise. If it is indeed in one of the non-moving parts of your system, the only solution may be to try listening more carefully or swap out parts until the noise stops.

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I've been having this problem for 2 years now, if it were one of the hard drives I think it would have crashed by now. – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 8 '10 at 21:22
Although it sounds like a long shot, I don't think it's worth any down-votes. Computers do weird things sometimes. – oKtosiTe Dec 8 '10 at 21:23
@oKtosiTe: I agree, I wasn't the downvoter! – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 8 '10 at 21:25
I think I did a fair job of covering what should be done to troubleshoot this (though Giles did make a good point about trying to reach in and apply pressure to various parts). A hard drive exhibiting this behavior for 2 years would definitely be odd, but it's the only part other than the PSU and mother-/daughterboard components that could likely make a noise at that frequency. And, the only solution for the latter is to listen harder, start poking around, and if necessary start swapping out parts until you find the right one. – Iszi Dec 10 '10 at 8:58
@Iszi: thanks for the advice! – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 15 '10 at 22:19

From the recording I can't tell whether it's more of a beep or more of a whine. Could you record a motherboard beep for comparison? Also a longer recording could help (is that really a second frequency at the end?).

If it's a beep, it could be your motherboard telling you something, or it could be a defect in the speaker. Try unplugging the speaker (in typical PCs there's a wire you can unplug somewhere; if you have the manual for your motherboard the right wire should be easy to find).

Otherwise it's probably a particularly loud electronics whine (I think it's too high-pitched to come from a fan, and too irregular to come from a disk). This can indeed happen to aging electronic components.

Did you open the case? This is pretty much necessary to get any clue as to the origin of the noise by ear. You might have some luck gently pressing your finger in some places and seeing if the noise changes. Mind your fingers though: don't touch any chip as they're usually burning hot, don't touch exposed conductors (you won't get electrocuted on a motherboard but your finger residues could cause a short), and don't apply so much mechanical pressure that you break something. Try gently pressing on edges of the motherboard, any extension board, RAM sticks...

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it's definitely not a digital beep, it's an analog whine. – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 8 '10 at 21:19
and yes, it's not a single-frequency whine, there is a small frequency and amplitude variation. – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 8 '10 at 21:40

It could be an alarm of some sort on your motherboard. Most motherboards have an audible alarms to indicate high temperature within the CPU. Check with the mobo manufacturer if it comes with a software utility.

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Also, check your BIOS to see if there's any monitoring available in there. However, the one overheating issue I've had resulted in a system crash followed by a high temperature warning from the BIOS on POST. – Iszi Dec 8 '10 at 4:13
It's definitely not a digital beep, it's an analog whine. Could it still be an alarm (I think not)? – Mauricio Scheffer Dec 8 '10 at 21:21

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